Neonatal Nurse Training

What is a Neonatal Nurse?

A Neonatal Nurse provides care for newborns up to 28 days after birth.  Some infants will remain in a neonatal nurse’s care for more than a year. Neonatal nurses deal with infections, birth defects, and the 40,000 babies born every year with a low birth weight.

Neonatal care has come a long way over the years. Twenty years ago, most of the infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) would not have lived past the first week. Due to technological advancements, today these tiny babies can survive and grow up to be normal, healthy children.

Neonatal care is a highly technical and challenging area of nursing. It is also very rewarding since NICU nurses can see the baby’s health improve until the child can be discharged. Neonatal nurses also provide support, care, and education to the infant’s parents as well as caring for their newborn baby.

Newborns in NICU usually suffer from multiple complications which include neurological, pulmonary, and cardiac deficits and will generally require a range of medical , technological, and surgical interventions.

It is a very competition field and hospitals like to fill vacant position with nurses with pervious experience in nursing.

What are the Job Responsibilities of a Neonatal Nurse?

A neonatal nurse will typically have 1-4 patients at a time. They help with the deliveries of premature infants, operate high-tech machines and oversee the administration of IV medications.

A neonatal nurse can develop a specialty in procedures such as intubations or lumbar punctures. Neonatal nurses could also choose to work in neonatal transport, stabilization or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) which uses specialized machines to bypass the heart and lungs of a seriously ill baby.

There are three different levels of neonatal nursery where a neonatal nurse practitioner could work.

  • Level I is typically a healthy newborn nursery. Level I nurseries are largely nonexistent in the United States because mothers and babies share the same room and both patients are discharged from the hospital quickly.
  • Level II is an intermediate or special care nursery for premature or ill newborns. At this level, infants may need special therapy provided by the nursing staff like supplemental oxygen, intravenous therapy, specialized feeding, or they might simply need more time to mature before being discharged.
  • Level III is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It treats all neonates (first 28 days of life) who cannot be treated in of the other nursery levels. These infants may be small for their age, premature, or require high technology care, such as ventilators, special equipment, incubators, or surgery to survive. Neonatal nurses provide direct patient care to these infants and compromise 90 percent of the NICU staff.

What are the Requirements to become a Neonatal Nurse?

Entry level requirements will very by location. At a minimum a prospective neonatal nurse needs to meet these requirements:

  • Must be a registered nurse (RN) with four-year Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree.
  • Must be certified in Neonatal Resuscitation and/or Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing.
  • May need to complete a minimum number of years of clinical experience in a hospital setting.
  • Must have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Many nursing schools offer a MSN thorough a two year Advanced Practice Neonatal Nursing (APNN) program which will prepare you for licensure as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).
  • After completing nursing school, a neonatal nurse must also become certified via the NCC exam by the State Board of Nursing or receive a national certification from an agency such as the National Certification Corporation.

What is the average salary for a Neonatal Nurse?

As with any job, the salary of a neonatal nurse will vary depending on the cost of living in the area. The Council of International Neonatal Nurses reports that a neonatal nurse practitioner could make from $56,000 to $190,000 per year, depending on the country and job responsibilities.

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